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[Warning: The following story contains spoilers from Bloodline‘s third season.]
Kevin Rayburn (Norbert Leo Butz) discovered the limits of Roy Gilbert (Beau Bridges) thinking of him “like a son” in the third and final season of Netflix’s Bloodline. Specifically, it was the moment when nurses at the hospital where the sketchy businessman was recuperating from a heart attack couldn’t tell Kevin if Gilbert died, citing “family only” rules.
But as far Bridges is concerned, Gilbert truly did care for Kevin like a child, even though he may have gotten into business with the youngest Rayburn brother for selfish reasons.
“I think in the beginning, yeah, I wanted to get control. I wanted to finally get all of their property and maybe even get their mother to come over to me, something that I wanted all of my life,” Bridges tells The Hollywood Reporter of Gilbert’s initial approach. “But then [my character] grows to love Kevin like a son and is concerned about him and I think that evolves more and more in season three. He really cares about him. But it’s all kind of sick because it’s not like Gilbert’s trying to help Kevin become this righteous guy in business and get his boat business going. He wants to involve him in terrible criminal activities. But in [Gilbert’s] mind, that’s just a business.”
Kevin ends up paying the price for his involvement in Gilbert’s illicit enterprises after his surrogate father leaves the scene. Bridges says Gilbert would likely be in denial about the possibility that he could get caught but would be upset about Kevin taking the fall.
“Probably people involved in criminal activities to the extent that those guys were, I have to imagine they must be in a position of denial about all of that,” says the veteran actor. “But I think they’ve made a choice and they’re rolling the dice, and they just do it the best they can and leave as fast as they can. I think it would be upsetting to him if he knew he was caught because he would hope that he wouldn’t be. I think also guys like that think that someday they’re going to get free of it all: Make their bundle and move to some island somewhere where they can’t be caught and live a big life. That’s probably what he’d want for himself and Kevin.”
Gilbert mysteriously appeared in Bloodline‘s second season as a wealthy benefactor who could help John Rayburn (Kyle Chandler) in his ultimately unsuccessful run for sheriff. But by the end of that season, viewers saw that Gilbert was connected to a drug-trafficking ring and is not who he represented himself to be.
Bridges says he slowly began to learn of his character’s dark side, explaining that when he first joined the show, the role was still somewhat of a mystery, which he and the writers figured out.
“I suspected that there was more to it since all of [the Bloodline characters] are kind of crazy. I kind of suspected things, but when I asked direct questions about ‘How’s this going to play out?’ They weren’t really forthcoming,” Bridges says. “As soon as I got a feeling for where he was going and discovered that he was a real powerful guy in the town and had a lot of tentacles out in different areas, he was going to impact what happened to that family quite a bit.”
It was then that Bridges attempted to offer a few “suggestions” to the writers about Gilbert. “They were kind of doing it on their own and I felt it would be imposing for me to get too detailed about that because they were doing such a wonderful job,” he recalls. “So I would kind of yap with them and see what came up, and it was always interesting stuff. I ended up liking my character. He was not a one-dimensional character. We came to some kind of an understanding of what kind of guy he was and what he was up to.”
As the sheriff’s race went on and came to an end, Gilbert got more involved with Kevin and left John alone, and Bridges says his character was just feeling out members of the family.
“John was kind of the most important target at the beginning because he was running for sheriff. If he became the sheriff and I controlled him, that would be fantastic where I was coming from, and I think that’s what I wanted. So I was trying that focus for a while and then early on I realized that wasn’t going to happen, that he was kind of his own man and saw me and was put off by me,” Bridges explains. “Then I switched my focus to Kevin, and Kevin at first seemed a little easier to penetrate and to bring into my web, so to speak, and then that did happen, but what Gilbert didn’t expect to happen was that I would now begin to care about this young man. I think that was the most interesting aspect to Gilbert and Kevin’s relationship.”
Additionally, Gilbert’s final scene allowed him to share his true feelings about Sally, the Rayburn matriarch, played by Bridges’ real-life longtime friend Sissy Spacek.
He says, “I expressed to her that I cared for her and there was an exchange and somewhat of an understanding.”
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